Blood sprays a vibrant red sheet painting the concrete. I stand in the unfinished beach house in Morocco which belongs to the father my close friend Reda. Reda braces the lamb as father and son perform the traditional sacrifice. The knife is sharp and supplies a clean cut cross the lambs main throat arteries. Reda had sent me a video of the living lamb earlier warning me that I was to see its sacrifice as my first introduction to his homeland. I had just happened to land on this eventful day.
Just a few weeks ago I was sitting on a couch in Nova Scotia enjoying a puff and playing guitar. It was then that Reda called me and proposed I meet him in Morocco while he was on his annual visit. We had previously discussed many travel plans but they had all fallen through. Reda would go on this conversation to remind me that I had fallen too far into a comfort zone and that I needed to shake things up again. "Live your dreams like you planned." he said.
I booked a ticket that night for just under $400 for a one way ticket to Casablanca, Morocco, Africa.
The animal kicks and draws air from the gape in its open neck. This is a traditional act of religious sacrifice during the month of August on the twenty second day. The act is performed all across Morocco and thousands of lambs will share this fate. The souls of the animals will be allowed direct entry into heaven. I watch the lamb die as it thrusts its final kicks.
In the following weeks after I booked my flight I became motivated by a new excitement. I purchased travel insurance from "World Nomads" and began to research my trip. I would only stay in Morocco for few weeks but had plans to travel all over Europe after that. My excitement led me to many blogs and websites and I became very enthusiastic about a train ride from Spain to Russia. I began to make lists on shipping paper that I taped to my bedroom walls, a practice I developed when I first began making drastic life changing plans. I would need travel supplies, travel routes, currencies, and also of course to tell my family about my plans.
As I stood over the sacrificed lamb who was now being skinned and prepared for eating I realized gratitude for the phone call that Reda made. I had definitely shaken things up.
This was my first day on the continent of Africa. I had no idea until I booked my flight that I would land on the biggest holiday that Moroccans celebrate. I was privy to something that only happens once a year and shared this celebration with my friend’s family who I was meeting for the first time. I do not believe this to be a coincidence. Ever since I started living my dreams there has been too many "perfectly" timed occurrences to call them coincidence. They are, at their base, experiences that I get to notice. They feel monumentally important because they are.
The skinned and prepared lamb was then hanged by hooks attached to the cement ceiling of the unfinished beach house. It was to stay there as we grilled its heart, liver, kidney and testicles which were kabobbed and wrapped in fat over a small charcoal barbecue. We enjoyed the meal with tomato salad, bread and stew served with mint green tea. I ate as much as I could and made sure to try everything including the tesiticles. Through a language barrier the family and I began to get to know each other. For desert we ate sugar nut cakes and coffee. Reda’s father with bright eyes and a wide smile exclaimed “Welcome to Africa!”.
When we were finished with the meal Reda and I departed to the nearby beach to swim in the ocean and lie in the sun. I peered over the horizon nearly baffled that I was on the other side of the Atlantic ocean and that somewhere to the northwest was my dear Zoey who was waiting for me to return someday.
The beach was a magnificent length of golden sand which warm ocean water did its rhythmic dance upon. Many people filled the sand and water and enjoyed the beautiful life that we were afforded on this day. The king's palace, one of his three in Rabat, sat nestled on a few acres close by to this public beach. Women, children, families, couples, and general beach goers sounded off a constant flow of language and laughter.
Reda and I made our way back home after enjoying a few hours on the beach to dine on a traditional couscous and lamb dinner. The meal was served in one single large bowl that the family and I shared and ate from. We dipped our bread in the delicious juice and laughed about the amazing day. We ate with our hands and without utensils.The language barrier still caused some confusion between us but the general interest and love we had for each other made the barrier moot. I was very happy to enjoy this blissful day with my dearest friend whose family I had wanted to meet for a long time.
I felt as foreign to this land and its customs as his family must have felt of me. I believe none of us where prepared or knew exactly what to expect. We acted in civility and mirth and enjoyed each other's company. His family welcomed me as though I was one of their own and through my own confusion I did my best to blend in. Although I was bombarded with many things that I had never been accustomed to before I felt inclined to just dig in and enjoy myself.
This was my first day in Morocco and my first day on the African continent. I have a whole world tour to plan and feel extremely motivated at this point. I begin to see why I have chosen to travel and regain a sense of purpose. I want to meet you and I want to know you and I want to share with you the love I have of this world and its people. This was a hell of a first day and I am looking forward to many more.